March 2022 Edition of Inside Equal Access

Alison Haynes and Amanda FeasterA NOTE FROM THE EDITORS

Welcome to the first edition of Inside Equal Access, designed for both Kent State employees and students! We, Alison and Amanda, hope that you find this newsletter to be informative, inspirational and a catalyst for change.

The two of us manage different areas on campus. Alison leads the Digital Accessibility Team in the Division of Information Technology and can guide you on the accessibility of anything technological. Amanda directs Student Accessibility Services in Student Affairs and works to support students with disabilities. 

Together, we chair Kent State's Accessibility Committee and have founded the Equal Access Cooperative, which exists to bring departments and divisions together to create a fully accessible Kent State. You can contact us at

Each month in Inside Equal Access, we'll share some of our passion through real-world stories, tips for increasing the accessibility of the world around you, and proven solutions that create equity. Our dream is that this information creates passion, that passion becomes energy, and that energy fuels CHANGE which results in truly Equal Access for all.

You can learn more about our passion for Equal Access at both 1) Accessibility Awareness 101 Training, Thursday, March 3, 2022, or Tuesday, March 29, 2022, and 2) the Thursday, March 10, 2022, session of the Valuing the Strength of Diversity Town Hall SeriesDisability and Accessibility for Equity

Disability and Accessibility for Equality Town Hall, March 10, 2022




    Connecting a villain’s evilness to a physical disability has a long history in the movie industry. This trope has reinforced misinformation about people with disabilities. 



    Learn about Ethan's journey as a student majoring in Communication Studies, and Emerging Media and Technology.



    Choosing better words

  • EMPLOYEE SPOTLIGHT: Virginia Dressler

    EMPLOYEE SPOTLIGHT: Virginia Dressler

    Digital Projects Librarian


Are you a student with at least one disability? Tell us about it.


  • Pre-Purchase Review Process

    Pre-Purchase Review Process

    "Defining Technology" FlowchartProcurement GlossaryComplete Product Assessment Form
    Struggling to know whether a product you're preparing to purchase is subject to University Policy 4-16 and a review by the Digital Accessibility Team? We get it. The (digital) lines are blurrier than ever.

    Few people realize that an Amazon locker system or a campus bike-sharing service has digital elements. But every mailroom worker uses a computer program to monitor package locations. Everyone riding a campus bike reserves and drops it off using a mobile application. Therefore, those products have elements that qualify as Kent State Technology. We're here to help you make sure these products are EQUALLY ACCESSIBLE by all users.

    The Digital Accessibility team is here to help you, the business unit or purchaser, understand what risks a digital solution poses to the university and what is necessary to ensure compliance with our policy. In order to reduce frustration, we hope that you will loop us in EARLY in your purchasing process so that our review does not inconvenience the product implementation timeline. Please use the steps below to ensure a great purchasing partnership. 


    Step 1: List the requirements for this digital solution and use the resulting information to inform your purchasing process.

    (You will not submit this document.)
    Define the stakeholders (leadership in your team or others who are impacted by or will be using the product) and end users (those using the product but not involved in managing it)
    Is the product a digital platform or system? Is it cloud or desktop based software? Is it a physical product that includes auxiliary software or mobile applications, such as physical bikes reserved on a smart phone?
    Will it be used on computers, tablets, smart phones, on a self-contained kiosk? Will it be used only on campus, or by student/staff off of campus? Does it require being logged into the Kent State network?
    Define the business goal and/or purpose this product needs to achieve.
    Is it completely independent or will it interact with any Kent State protected data? Does it need to integrate with Canvas or Blackboard, reference student ID#, etc.?

    Step 2: Ask the Information Technology employee in your area whether any digital solutions Kent State already owns would meet your requirements.

    Who is my Tech Support Person?    KSU Enterprise Licenses   KSU Software Info
    If a current enterprise product will not meet your needs, move on to step 3.

    Step 3: Answer the questions below with a "Yes" or "No".

    • Will current Kent State Students or staff be REQUIRED to use this product? (i.e. software or application necessary to complete course assignments, system employees use to document their sick days)
    • Will more than 100 people be using this product (both administrators and end users)?
    • Does the product cost more than $2500 per contract year?
    • Will it interact with any Kent State protected data? (i.e. Does it need to integrate with Canvas or Blackboard, reference student ID#, etc.?)

    If the answer to ANY of the above questions is "Yes", continue to step 4. If not, your digital product does not need to be reviewed at this time by the Digital Accessibility Team, but inform your Tech Support Person of your purchase plans. (**Note that you should reference these questions again at contract renewal, as this method of determining which products to review is under revision by DoIT leadership and is subject to change.)

    Step 4: If you answered "Yes" to any of the above questions and are pursuing a product outside of current enterprise licenses (even FREE digital solutions), gather the documents listed below and submit your product for review by the Information Security and Digital Accessibility team. 

    • Talk to a sales representative for the product to request a recent VPAT and HECVAT. Not all companies have completed forms, but work to underscore the importance of these documents. Your sales representative may not know what these documents are, so suggest they speak with a technology/development team member. Share these websites with the sales rep and ask them to pass them on to the development team: ABOUT THE VPATABOUT THE HECVAT 
    • Complete the Product Assessment Form, which helps the Information Security and Digital Accessibility teams understand basic information about the product in order to begin the review process. Each product requires a review by each of these two independent teams before contract and/or use. Please complete the above steps to be fully informed about the product and how your department plans to implement it BEFORE beginning the form.  

    Step 5: Please allow 10 business days for our teams to process both reviews upon receipt of the HECVAT and VPAT. 
    *Email if this timeline or acquiring the HECVAT or VPAT is problematic.



    Procurement Glossary

    Buying Unit: The person within a department or office that is tasked with researching and purchasing digital solutions for use by students, staff or faculty. Works to add the appropriate time to the purchasing timeline to allow for IT review. Is the main contact for the Digital Accessibility Team and the Information Security Team as they conduct the review. Often communicates with the vendor to get more information for the review.

    Digital Accessibility Team: Exists within the Systems Development and Innovation Team within the Division of Information Technology. Works to assess and improve the digital accessibility of Kent State University’s entire digital footprint: websites, course materials, applications, software, and archives. Provides education and guidance on compliance with the digital accessibility policy. Liaises with many departments on campus to strengthen efforts towards digital accessibility.

    Digital Solution: Software, hardware and digital content used to solve a business or educational need; including web-based information and applications, audio and/or visual content, mobile applications, digital documents, educational materials, assistive classroom technology, purchasing and business processes, telecommunications, and self-contained products with a digital component.

    HECVAT: The Higher Education Community Vendor Assessment Tool (HECVAT) is a questionnaire framework specifically designed for higher education to measure vendor risks. The information security team will have buying units ask the solution provider to complete a HECVAT to confirm that information, data, and Cybersecurity policies are in place to protect sensitive institutional information and constituents' Personal Identifiable Information (PII). There are two versions, based on the type of information accessed or used by the chosen digital product. The information security team asks buying units fill out the request to find out which version of HECVAT to submit and then ask the vendor for a copy that is less than 12 months old. 

    Information Security Team: The second of two DoIT teams which review digital products before purchase, it exists within the Division of Information Technology and is led by the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO). This team works to protect the university information systems, identities and data assets through the use of security and privacy controls to create and maintain a resilient and secure posture, while fostering a culture of security awareness and compliance throughout the university. Digital product review is a key component of ensuring this protection, as our digital safety can be compromised by introducing an insecure third-party product.

    VPAT: The Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) is a recommended reporting format used to assist government contracting officials and other buyers in identifying accessibility features and barriers of commercially available information and communication technology. Providing the digital accessibility team with a VPAT helps us to better understand the accessibility features of your product and quickly identify any areas where a user with disabilities may encounter difficulties. A good, thoroughly-detailed VPAT can help move a purchasing request through the process more quickly. Likewise, the lack of a VPAT or a poorly-detailed VPAT can delay the process significantly. Please see for more information.

  • Colour Contrast Analyser App

    Colour Contrast Analyser App

    Learn to test color contrast.

  • The Equal Access Academy

    The Equal Access Academy

    Preview and Sign Up for Equal Access Academy Trainings

  • Equal Access Committee

    Equal Access Committee

    In 2023, the Equal Access Committee, formerly the Accessibility Committee, celebrates its 12th year of advocating for accessibility and inclusion for all students and staff.


Accessibility By the Numbers


the percentage of high school graduates nationally who state they have one or more disabilities


the approximate number of Kent State students


the number of students who would likely qualify for disability services


the number of students who are receiving disability services in the Spring 2022 semester

What can YOU do about these numbers?

Work to invest in students' and peers' lives; ask about their struggles, their victories, their routines.
Then if they self-disclose a disability, you'll already be in a position of trust and can provide assistance. 
*Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2021). Digest of Education Statistics, 2019 (2021-009), Chapter 3